Ken Whisenhunt was talking about his running game this season — when he considered if that part of the game made progress or was just frustrating, Whisenhunt said “Would it be fair to say you can have both?” — when I decided to ask him if he ever thought about what rookie Ryan Williams would have meant had he not blown out his patella tendon in the preseason.
“I don’t think any of us are under the illusion that having Ryan Williams wouldn’t have helped us,” Whisenhunt said. “It was pretty evident he is a talented young player. But it’s like anything, you don’t look back and say ‘You wish …’ or ‘You could’ve …’ because that’s the NFL.”
There will never be any way to know exactly how much Williams would have affected Beanie Wells. Beanie finally became the workhorse back this season with the Tim Hightower trade and Williams’ injury. After Beanie’s 245 rushing attempts, the Cards’ running backs have totaled 30 (Alfonso Smith), 22 (LaRod Stephens-Howling) and 17 (Chester Taylor). Taylor wouldn’t be on the team had Williams been around, and I’d be willing to be he’d have more than 69 rushing attempts (the total of the other three). As much as Beanie probably likes it, he’s not usually going to get 78 percent of the rushing attempts by the running backs.
Wells has had an outstanding season — 1,047 yards, 4.3 average, 10 touchdowns — especially considering he is playing on a bad knee. Whisenhunt talked about how the numbers were “significant” milestones. “I believe we have made progress but not the progress we want,” Whiz added. There have been missed opportunities and chances lost that are seen on video, but “that doesn’t mean anything to fans,” Whisenhunt said.
“Why are we not getting more out of it?” Whisenhunt said. “When we go back through our season, that will be one of the things we have to talk about. Why did this not happen? Some of the runs Beanie made earlier this year, he can’t make right now with the injury). You understand that.”
That’s where you figure Williams would have fit in so nicely. With a second explosive back to help while Beanie deals with the knee, what could that have meant? What could it mean next year?
Earlier this week, Williams tweeted a simple message: “I AM next year…and the years to come…” He is happy with his rehab and ready to play again in 2012. Assuming Williams does come back as he was, he’ll mean a lot to this running game, and to this team.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams
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